In the first article of our month-long Jobs In Games special, in association with OPM, the recruitment expert's Catherine Cope and Carol Connor advise members of the industry on what they have to consider when looking for new opportunities abroad.
Like most things in life, what you put in is what you get out, therefore your strategy of job searching through a recruitment agency still requires good planning, energy and clear goals on your part first – especially when considering the many international opportunities opening up as a result of studio changes and relocations.
Our consultants have read hundreds of articles where we are told the games industry is growing here, there, everywhere. The fact is that the industry is changing in line with the market trends all the time, and growth in different areas fluctuates as it does in any industry. Just 18 months ago, the UK industry was in fear of losing all its key development and commercial talent to Canada, when the government offered tax breaks to its very own games industry. Today we are seeing candidates return to the UK and Europe, some because the tax breaks are no more, others because they've discovered yes, the winters are that little bit colder”.
Today, we are seeing growth in Asia and the Middle East, and candidates are moving to where the jobs are – in fact we are seeing more movement than ever. Candidates from the USA and Europe are deciding to up sticks and move to sunnier climbs to work on just as enjoyable and exciting products, The fact remains that this industry will always evolve, projects will be completed, its workers will move on to new projects wherever that may be and the cycle starts again.
There can be several reasons for growth in new regions (and for you to potentially relocate for a job), but the most common reason in this industry is cost. Studios can operate more cheaply and effectively from another town, city or even country. This is why studios are operating in Eastern Europe and Asia – the talent is readily available in these areas and at a reasonable cost to both the studio and the staff that are located there.
This means that candidates are now considering relocation overseas in order to continue working on triple-A games and the more open you are on location, the more options are available to you.
So when thinking about relocating for a job there are a few things that you need to consider:
Immediate options - Have you exhausted all options on your own doorstep? Unfortunately in such a niche industry, our options are already limited, do your research to see what you may have missed.
Location Location Location - Where will you consider? A simple question but few really consider this until the last minute.
Culture – Are you (and your family, if applicable) comfortable with a change of culture? Will you be able to integrate into a society that is different to what you are used you?
Language – Do you speak the language of your prospective country, are you willing to learn a new language?
Immigration Policies – do contact your local embassy for the country that you are considering relocating to. If you have a valid visa or work permit in place it can be of considerable benefit as many studios do not have the facility to offer sponsorship.
Family - How do they fit into these plans? Will, your wife/husband want to live in a new country? What are the schools like? If you are not married or are in an alternative relationship does the culture allow you live as a couple/family?
House Prices/Cost of living – Will you need to sell or rent out your home? What will your accommodation cost? And will your outgoings increase/decrease?
Quality of life – will this differ from where you live now? What about your commute? Will you have time to spend with your friends/family?
Incentives to move – will the company assist with relocation, what package are they offering? Will they support you by helping set up bank accounts, find accommodation, help settle your family into their new surroundings.
And finally - The Job Itself– Will you enjoy it? Will you receive the resources you need to make it work? Will it challenge you?
This list is by no means exhaustive and nothing can substitute for your own in-depth research, after all only you know you and what will suit your specific situation, likes and dislikes.
Relocating for a job is going to be one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make during your career. So, being realistic about what you will achieve by taking this step and 100% sure with your decision is crucial.